na foine ting

Monday, May 23, 2005
I skate with a limp.

Right now, it looks like this: halting progress around the ice, unable to use my left outer edge for anything like control and therefore both stopping and turning are once again iffy propositions.

I can’t skate backwards.

I can barely crossover.

I’m back at three years ago, only this time I know exactly how to do it, and so the humoring, pitying looks of all the figure skaters flying around me to the strains of Gershwin—when I find the CD I’m going to grind it repeatedly over my blade edge—are that much more galling.

Really. I can do this, I want to say.

Under normal circumstances.

Just not now.

A four year old whizzes in front of me, pink mittens extended, graceful. She’s mocking me. I know it, and not only is she mocking me, her coach in the bright yellow parka with his damn latte in his hand and her mother with her nose pressed against the glass over there—they’re mocking me too.

A father is teaching his daughter how to skate. I pass them slowly. She’s in about the same place I am. Pissed off, humiliated, and in agony.

“Just keep at it,” her father says cheerfully, skating backwards in front of her to demonstrate his prowess, in his shiny black figure skates. “Just keep at it. I started where you are, and now look how good I am!”

I have this urge to skate up to the little girl. I have this urge to lean down and whisper fiercely and urgently in her ear, “tell your dad some day you’re going to grow up and learn how to open ice check and then he’s going to be in real trouble, and that he can either pay for therapy now or a concussion and three broken ribs later, and while you’re it, real men wear HOCKEY SKATES, god dammit!”

I stifle the urge. I skate on. I listen to the same twelve measures of American in Paris for the four hundredth time, and harbor secret dreams about falling into the Guadalupe river and being miraculously healed, and going to practice on Thursday night, same as usual.

This is difficult. It’s slow, and difficult, and it hurts.

That I’ve been here before makes it somewhat easier.

That I have to go this route, pay these dues again, somewhat harder.

A guy comes over while I’m elevating my foot. He’s been skating circles around me—literally—all morning. Looking at me, at the hockey skates, looking at his hockey skates, looking smug because not only can he skate circles around me, he can skate in a circle in the first place.

“Skating’s very important,” he says. “For every hour you spend in a game, you should spend six hours practicing your skating.”

For a while I just sit there, because what he said just keeps sliding off my brain. What?

“That might work if you only played one game every couple of weeks,” I say finally.

He looks, although I doubted it were possible, smugger. “I practice my skating every day,” he says.

“Yeah?” I sit in silence for a moment. “You played any actual games yet?”

“Well. I have a group of friends, we do this sort of weekend warrior thing, you know, just some friendly competition between friends…” blah, blah. I let him ramble on for a while about it all and then finally cut in.

“Any actual league games?” I say.

Now it’s his turn to be quiet. Back before I broke my foot, I was a nice person. Not anymore. “Uh, no.”

I get up, fix him with a look before I limp back to the ice. “I didn’t think so,” I say.

I skate around in a circle. I try too much too fast and the pain stops me cold, and I try to do this: humble myself.

Humble or be humbled.

See, when it comes down to it, I’d rather do it voluntarily.

That’s the thing.
good lord, what a ton of assvice you got!

i can say that i came back stronger than before, so you'll be a force to be reckoned with...again.
I'd love to see mister hockey guy skating for dear life with you on the team zamboni (from the Cadbury egg incident) bearing down on him with a tight little 'I have you now' smile. Body check off the ice and into the parking lot. Heal from that you jerk!
Smug bastard.
I do like your site. Continue posting. You have an awesome day.
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